Hawaii Drone Laws in 2024

What is Hawaii drone laws? Drone Laws in Hawaii establish regulations on registering, flying, and penalties for illegal use of unmanned aircraft systems in the state. Failure to properly register drones weighing over 0.55 pounds can result in civil fines up to $5,000 under Hawaii’s statutes.

Reckless drone operation, including flying over marine waters without permits or interfering with emergency operations, can lead to criminal charges and fines. Drone Laws in Hawaii also prohibit capturing images or recordings that infringe upon reasonable expectations of privacy, with violators facing hefty penalties. Beyond state regulations, individual counties like Honolulu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii have enacted local ordinances governing when and where drones can fly. Understanding the layers of laws is key for pilots. By flying safely and conscientiously, drone users can enjoy Hawaii’s beautiful landscapes without running afoul of restrictions. Consult an attorney when questions arise.

Hawaii moved early to establish statewide drone regulations by passing legislation in 2017 that requires licensing and sets operational rules. Additional county-level ordinances have also been implemented on individual islands. Evaluating the effectiveness of existing laws and determining if further policy adjustments are needed remain important considerations for lawmakers going forward.

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What are the Drone Laws in Hawaii?

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  1. The state of Hawaii passed legislation in 2017 requiring all drone operators to register their drones with the state Department of Transportation. Recreational users must pay a $5 registration fee, while commercial users pay $50.
  2. Drone operators in Hawaii must be at least 16 years old and pass an aeronautics knowledge test to obtain a drone permit.
  3. Drones may not fly over state parks and nature preserves in Hawaii without advance permission. There are also restrictions on flying near marine sanctuaries.
  4. It is illegal to fly drones over populated areas as well as over groups of people in Hawaii. There must be a buffer zone of at least 25 feet.
  5. Hawaiian law prohibits using drones to invade someone’s privacy or to photograph someone without their consent if they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
  6. There are county-level restrictions in Maui and Kauai that prohibit flying drones in certain areas frequently visited by endangered seabirds and Hawaiian monk seals.
  7. On the island of Hawaii, drone use near Marine Corps training areas is not allowed. Honolulu County also bans takeoffs and landings of drone aircraft on public beaches and parks.

So in summary, Hawaii has sought to regulate recreational and commercial drone use through statewide registration and pilot testing requirements plus locality-specific restrictions to address safety, privacy and wildlife conservation concerns unique to the islands.

What are the features of Hawaii‘s drone laws?

  1. Registration: Drone registration is required for both recreational and commercial drone operators in Hawaii. The registration must be done with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the registration number must be visibly displayed on the drone.
  2. Recreational Drone Use: Recreational drone operators in Hawaii must follow the guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for recreational drone use. These guidelines include flying below 400 feet above ground level, maintaining visual line of sight with the drone, and avoiding flying near airports or manned aircraft.
  3. Commercial Drone Use: Commercial drone operators in Hawaii must comply with the FAA’s rules and regulations for commercial drone operations. This includes obtaining a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate, which requires passing a knowledge test, and adhering to operational restrictions and requirements.
  4. No-Fly Zones: Hawaii has designated certain areas as no-fly zones for drones, such as around airports, military installations, and national parks. It is prohibited to fly drones in these areas without proper authorization.
  5. Privacy Concerns: Hawaii’s drone laws address privacy concerns. It is generally illegal to use a drone to intentionally capture images or record audio of individuals in a private setting without their consent. Violation of privacy laws can result in legal consequences.
  6. Restrictions on Drone Operations: Hawaii’s drone laws include restrictions on drone operations to ensure public safety. For example, drones cannot be flown in a careless or reckless manner, and they must yield right-of-way to manned aircraft.
  7. State and Local Authority: Hawaii’s drone laws allow for additional regulations at the county level. Different counties within Hawaii may have specific rules and restrictions on drone operations, such as flight altitude limits or designated areas for drone use. It is important to be aware of and comply with the local regulations in the specific area you plan to fly your drone.

What should you pay attention to when you fly a drone in Hawaii?

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  1. Check for any temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) before flying. There may be restrictions over certain areas like marine sanctuaries, volcanic eruption zones, or to protect wildlife that you need to be aware of.
  2. Be aware of airport no drone zones. Many airports in Hawaii have a 5 mile radius no drone zone around them. Stay well clear of take-off and landing approaches.
  3. Don’t interfere with emergency operations. If emergency responders are conducting search and rescue, medical operations, or firefighting, do not fly your drone in the area.
  4. Maintain line of sight. By law you must be able to see your drone at all times when flying recreationally. Use a visual observer if needed.
  5. Be careful near wilderness areas, trails, marine preserves, and endangered species. Follow rules and regulations established to protect Hawaii’s sensitive ecosystems and wildlife.
  6. Respect privacy and private property. Do not fly over private property without permission or capture images invading reasonable expectations of privacy.
  7. Avoid crowded areas like beaches and parks. Use extra caution flying drones in public spaces.

What are the requirements for recreational drone use in Hawaii?

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  1. Registration – Recreational drones must be registered with the Hawaii Department of Transportation for a $5 fee. Proof of registration must be carried when flying.
  2. Minimum age – Drone pilots must be at least 16 years old to fly recreationally.
  3. Knowledge test – Recreational fliers must pass an aeronautics knowledge test administered by the state before receiving a drone permit.
  4. Flight restrictions – Hobbyist drones cannot fly over state parks, marine sanctuaries, or other protected conservation areas without advance permission.
  5. Altitude limits – Recreational drones must stay under 400 feet in altitude and avoid controlled airspace.
  6. Line-of-sight – The drone must be kept within eyesight of the pilot. First-person view camera equipment is prohibited.
  7. Night flying – More stringent rules apply for operating drones recreationally at night.
  8. Privacy – Capturing images or recordings of people without their consent is prohibited.
  9. Buffer zones – There must be at least 25 feet of separation from crowds, beaches, or public park areas.

So in summary, recreational hobbyists in Hawaii must follow rules to register their drone, get certified, respect flight zones, and avoid invasive use. Permits help ensure safe and responsible unmanned aircraft operation. Violations can result in fines or legal penalties.

What happens if drone laws are violated in Hawaii?

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If drone laws are violated in Hawaii, the individual responsible may face legal consequences. Hawaii has established regulations to ensure the safe and responsible operation of drones within the state.

Violating drone laws in Hawaii can result in penalties and enforcement actions. The specific consequences may vary depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Common violations include flying drones in restricted areas, such as near airports or over private property without permission, or operating drones in a reckless manner that endangers people or property.

The penalties for violating drone laws in Hawaii may include fines, confiscation of the drone, or even criminal charges in more serious cases. The severity of the penalties depends on factors such as the level of risk posed by the violation and any previous offenses.

To avoid legal issues, it is crucial for drone operators to familiarize themselves with the latest drone laws and regulations in Hawaii and ensure compliance. Staying updated on any changes or updates to the laws and guidelines is essential for responsible and lawful drone operation within the state. By following the drone laws in Hawaii, individuals can enjoy the benefits of drone technology while respecting the privacy, safety, and well-being of others.

Final words about drone laws in Hawaii

Hawaii has aimed to allow beneficial uses of drones while restricting careless or intrusive operations that disturb residents or threaten public spaces. However, finding an ideal regulatory equilibrium continues to involve weighing economic incentives against privacy protections.

As drone technologies and capabilities evolve, revisiting drone statutes at both the state and county levels will be necessary to adapt to emerging opportunities and obstacles. With thorough analysis and input from diverse stakeholders, Hawaii policymakers can hopefully craft thoughtful standards that make drone regulation judicious without being excessive. Moving forward, striking the right balance will be imperative to allowing society to reap the rewards of drones while containing their risks.

Know more about the drone laws in Hawaii, please check the following video out:

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FAQs about drone laws in Hawaii

Do I need to register my drone in Hawaii?

Yes, you must register any drone weighing between 0.55 and 55 lbs with the FAA before flying in Hawaii. This applies to both hobbyists and commercial operators.

What are the rules for flying drones in national parks in Hawaii?

You cannot fly drones in national parks in Hawaii such as Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park without a special use permit. There are restrictions to protect landscapes and wildlife.

Can I fly my drone over private property or private islands?

No. You must have explicit permission from the property owner first before flying a drone over private property or islands in Hawaii. This includes resorts, golf courses, etc.

What licenses and permits do I need to operate a drone commercially in Hawaii?

A FAA Part 107 remote pilot certificate as well as registering each drone. Some locations require filming permits too. Hawaii also necessitates an additional state commercial drone permit.

Are there any restrictions on flying drones at the beaches in Hawaii?

Yes. Do not interfere with sea turtles and monk seals. Stay far away and land your drone if they approach. Also obey warning signage and lifeguard guidance.

Are there drone prohibited zones in cities like Honolulu and Maui’s main airports?

Yes. There is a 5 mile radius no drone zone around most major Hawaii airports like in Honolulu and Kahului, Maui. Fines can be $250K.

What should I do if there is a temporary flight restriction (TFR) over an area I wanted to fly in Hawaii?

Do not fly in the zone during the noted time period. You could face FAA enforcement actions and civil penalties.

Is there an app that shows drone no fly zones for Hawaii?

Yes. B4UFly is the FAA’s free app that displays current and temporary flight restrictions that apply to drone pilots in Hawaii.

If I follow all the recreational drone rules, can I post and monetize my drone videos taken in Hawaii?

Generally yes, but stay away from protected sites. Commercial use requires FAA & state permits.

What are the penalties if I operate a drone unsafely or illegally in Hawaii?

Fines vary but can be $250K+ and even prison. Additionally authorities are permitted to seize rule-breaking drones in Hawaii.


Hello, I'm Eliza. an expert in drone technology, I provide in-depth analysis on the evolution and impact of drones from various perspectives - technical capabilities, policy considerations, societal implications. Through balanced and nuanced reporting, I aim to advance thoughtful discussions on this rapidly changing field. I look forward to exchanging ideas on the promise and perils of drones.